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Chapter 4 - Scotland Yard is on the case.....

As well as an FBI check we also needed to get background checks from the UK because we had lived there for more than six months during the past ten years. To do this you must apply to Scotland Yard. This too was fun - especially from a distance of 5000 miles.

First we phoned and then to phone Scotland Yard and ask them to send us the forms.

First we phoned and later wrote to Scotland Yard and asked them to send us the forms. Then we waited for a long time. Nothing. So we asked again and eventually ended up with several sets of forms because they had forgotten to put stamps on the envelopes and we simply paid the postage when they were eventually delivered.

Under the Data Protection Act, Section 21, 1984 it is our legal right to know what, if any, information someone is holding about us in any data base in the U.K. There are some exceptions but I'll describe them later...they re quite funny actually. Anyway, you have to show proof of I.D. to Scotland Yard in order to get this information. You can send them your birth certificate if you like but remember it could well get lost. They want originals and won't accept a photocopy. What they want to see is your full name (including middle names) and your address.

We sent the top bit of our bank statement which listed both names and also I mailed envelopes to myself and hubby with our full name and full address. Once it has been through the postal system then Scotland Yard apparently will accept this as proof. The mind fairly boggles doesn't it! I have to prove I exist with this name and therefore I send myself a letter.

So we get our forms and our proofs of I.D. and then we needed Ten Pounds Sterling for each search. It had to be in U.K. Funds....we sent cash with a friend who was traveling back to England but you could try to get a Sterling bank draft. You have to specify which database you want them to look in....there are dozens and it appears to be entirely your choice. We chose Prosecution/Conviction History. It seemed the most logical choice. They are obliged to get the answer back to you in 40 days. However, as a word of warning, they put a second class inland stamp on our results (we were living Iowa, U.S.A. but I guess I should be grateful that this time it had a stamp at all...) so it came by the scenic route in a rowing boat. Presumably that's why this employee of New Scotland Yard works in Data Protection and not as a detective! We eventually got a letter back saying that they had found no trace of us in the database. Then comes the amusing exceptions. I will quote what they say:-

Quoting directly from the Scotland Yard form we received: NB: The exemptions in relation to disclosure of information held on Police computers are limited to where data are held for:- (a) the prevention or detection of crime, (b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, and disclosing such data would be likely to prejudice those purposes.

In other words, if they believe you have committed a crime but they just haven't actually nabbed you for it yet they won't tell you anyway, which makes the whole thing a bit useless as far as Canadian Immigration is concerned if you ask me, but fortunately Canadian Immigration didn't ask me so I suppose it doesn't matter.
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